What Does a Blood Sugar Dog Do Exactly?
Much like a continuous glucose monitor, but fuzzier and toothier, a BG dog (or blood-sugar dog) alerts someone if they detect the scent of blood sugar level crossing through specific blood sugar ranges. This should indicate to a diabetic that the blood sugar range is "off" and help alert you before the shifts occur and the blood sugar gets too low or too high. They can help keep a diabetic within the normal ranges by helping you prepare and prevent heading out of the normal ranges.
HOW DOGS ARE TRAINED TO SNIFF OUT LOW BLOOD SUGAR
Experts say that dogs can detect the subtle odors that occur when declining blood sugar changes body chemistry. During training, dogs are rewarded for offering a behavior when they detect a smell. (I've seen dogs notice bg changes over the smell of fresh popcorn!) For diabetics, that shift in diabetics and alerting their owners to the problem can be a poke of the nose, licking a hand, or using some other signaling method. (Cocoa looks at me earnestly, paws me, and says "low blood sugar" or "high blood sugar" in her growly voice). Each dog owner pair will be different in their communication or relationship. Once fully trained, dogs will alert not only their owners but also any other diabetes sufferers whose body scent indicates a blood sugar in the range that they were trained in. This alert can help give owners a bit of a time-gap warning when BGs are heading in the wrong direction, thus helping to eliminate the extremes. This helps you not be "knocked out for an hour" due to your swings, especially when there's a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels.
Training for all dogs takes months: beyond basics, there is additional recall and behavior, advanced recall, and scent work training can take at least twenty-four months and ongoing weekly after the initial basis is established. A dog must be old enough, have a well-suited temperament, and be trained to be well-mannered and do their work. (Some dogs that are not that obedient and may not be suitable for blind people just may be okay for a diabetic. Sometimes a dog is just too inbred and nuts (too tennis-ball-obsessed, aggressive, or otherwise crazy).
Chronic health conditions can be difficult and isolating conditions. An alert dog can bring medical and psychological benefits of reducing stress and providing companionship.
I hope you will consider training your own pup to help you with your blood sugars. I've written a guide to help you train your own dog to begin alerting you to blood sugars. Let me know if you're interested in the direction and of any questions.
Ideas and Insights +, Blood Sugar Dogs
Talking Animals: How do dogs sniff out diseases in humans? https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/talking-animals-windsor-morning-1.5588321
Dogs alert diabetes patients when blood sugar is off, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/yourlife/pets/dogs/2010-10-14-diabetesdogs14_ST_N.htm